Panathinaikos beat Lietuvos Rytas 59-80
Panathinaikos had a strong start in Top 16 Group E by downing Lietuvos Rytas 59-80 in front of 9,500 fans at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday night. Panathinaikos grabbed its fourth road win this season and improved to 1-0 in Group E. Meanwhile, L. Rytas faces back-to-back road games against Caja Laboral and Unicaja up next. Mike Batiste led the winners 26 points on 11-of-17 two-pointers. Kostas Kaimakoglou added 16, Kostas Tsartsaris had 12 while Drew Nicholas got 10 for Panathinaikos. Milko Bjelica had 11 points for L. Rytas while Khalid El-Amin and Kenan Bajramovic each added 10 for the hosts. Bjelica and Martynas Gecevicius - who did not finish the game due to injury - shined early to give L. Rytas a 24-18 lead early in the second quarter. Panathinaikos, however, made the hosts go scoreless for more than 6 minutes and found a new go-to guy in Tsartsaris to get a 33-35 edge right after the break. Tsartsaris had 8 points in a 0-12 run that broke the game open, 41-55, with 9 minutes to go. L. Rytas kept trying but Panathinaikos kept full control of the game until the final buzzer.
Nicholas got Panathinaikos going with a five-meter jumper, as L. Rytas went scoreless in the opening 3 minutes. Batiste soon added an alleyoop layup for a 0-4 lead. The Greens excelled in defense early and Batiste scored again, but Bjelica matched his layup with free throws. L. Rytas managed to stop the Greens' pick-and-roll in the high post and a jumper by Gecevicius got the hosts within 4-6. Cemal Nalga shined with a left-handed jump hook that Kaimakoglou, as a surprise starter at small forward, matched with a layup. Gecevicius nailed a catch-and-shoot triple that gave L. Rytas its first lead, 9-8. Kaimakoglou took over with a dunk and Diamantidis found Batiste for an alleyoop dunk, good for a 9-12 Panathinaikos lead. Bjelica scored around the basket and Bajramovic added a corner triple to put L. Rytas back ahead, 14-13. Kaimakoglou answered from downtown but back-to-back layups by El-Amin restored a 18-16 L. Rytas edge. A big basket by Batiste and a buzzer-beating triple by Bjelica fixed the score at 21-18 after 10 minutes.
Gecevicius provided a highlight with a bank shot from near midcourt in a broken play early in the second quarter. Batiste scored down low, however, as Panathinaikos used twin point guards with Nick Calathes and Diamantidis together on court. Bajramovic insisted from downtown to boost L. Rytas' lead to 27-20. Kaimakoglou kept pacing the Greens with a tip-in and Diamantidis added a driving layup to get the Greens within 27-24. Simas Jasaitis scored around the basket, as L. Rytas improved its defense with Jonas Valanciunas on court. Jasaitis shined with a reverse layup that Nicholas bettered with a bomb from downtown. Valanciunas made free throws, as Panathinaikos kept running its offense through Batiste without much success. L. Rytas struggled to find the way to the basket late in the first half but the Greens kept missing open shots. Diamantidis shined with another driving layup that only managed to bring Panathinaikos within 33-29 as both teams headed back to their locker rooms.
Tsartsaris banked in a close shot soon after the break, as L. Rytas kept finding it hard to get open looks. Meanwhile, Diamantidis found Batiste for an easy basket that tied it at 33-33. L. Rytas had been scoreless for more than 6 minutes already and a huge dunk in traffic by Batiste made the hosts call timeout at 33-35. Nalga sank free throws and had a big block on Batiste, who took revenge in the next play to give the Greens a 35-37 edge. El-Amin shined with a big basket in penetration that Kaimakoglou bettered with a three-pointer. Nicholas copied him right after that to boost his team's margin to 37-43. Jasaitis took over with a driving layup and El-Amin sent a no-look assist to Bajramovic to get L. Rytas within 41-43. Tsartsaris rescued the Greens with a layup-plus-foul and Stratos Perperoglou sank a fallaway jumper, good for a 41-48 score. Calathes found Batiste for an alleyoop dunk and Tsartsaris added a wild three-point play that made it a double-digit game, 41-53, at the end of the third quarter.
Tsartsaris dunked it early in the fourth quarter that Steponas Babrauskas bettered with a three-pointer. L. Rytas needed to improve its defense but Panathinaikos kept finding easy baskets. Calathes shined with a backdoor layup and Diamantidis scored in transition for a 13-point Panathinaikos lead, 46-59. L. Rytas tried to speed up the game tempo by using shorter possessions but the guests kept playing with high intensity at both ends. Tsartsaris found space for an uncontested dunk that forced the hosts to call timeout at 46-61. Antonis Fotsis struck from downtown and soon added a power layup that sealed the outcome, 47-66, midway through the fourth quarter. Both teams fought now for points differential, a critical issue in each and every Top 16 group. Panathinaikos kept attacking the basket to go to the foul line often and by the time Batiste found space for an uncontested dunk, everything was said and done already, 51-71, as the Greens had cruised to a convincing road win.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011